Indiana Daily Student

Study: Heterosexuals support legal rights of same-sex couples, not PDA

A new study shows that while heterosexual individuals may support the equal legal rights of same-sex couples, they might not be as supportive when it comes to public displays of affection.

Heterosexuals are just as likely to support the legal rights of homosexual couples as they are to support their own, but they are far more likely to condone PDA among heterosexual couples than they are among same-sex couples, according to the study authored by  Long Doan, a Ph.D. candidate in the IU-Bloomington Department of Sociology.

The study, “Formal Rights and Informal Privileges for Same-Sex Couples: Evidence From a National Survey Experiment,” appeared in the December issue of the American Sociological Review, according to an IU news release.

A nationally representative dataset involving more than 1,000 people was used in the study.

Annalise Loehr and Lisa R. Miller, also Ph.D. candidates in the sociology department, co-authored the study, according to the ?University.

The study provided participants with three scenarios of unmarried couples who were cohabitating.

The only difference between these couples was their sexual identity, one being gay, one lesbian and one heterosexual.

Participants were asked to read the scenario and respond to questions about their perceptions of the couple.

Some of these questions focused on legal issues such as whether the couple should receive legal ?benefits.

These benefits were things such as family leave, inheritance, health insurance and hospital visitation.

Other questions focused on how acceptable it was for the couple to engage in various forms of PDA, from holding hands to French kissing in a park, according to the University.

Among the heterosexual participants, 70 percent supported inheritance rights for the heterosexual couple. Sixty-nine percent, however, supported the rights for the gay couple and 73 percent supported the rights for the lesbian couple.

Each participant received one scenario.

While the results for the legal rights are not significantly varied, the results for the scenarios regarding PDA varied greatly.

Heterosexual respondents approved of the heterosexual couple kissing on the cheek 95 percent of the time.

A smaller number of respondents approved of same-sex couples kissing on the cheek. Fifty-five percent approved of the gay couple while 72 percent approved of the lesbian couple.

Furthermore, the researchers found gay and lesbian people are also, in some cases, less likely to support the PDA of same-sex couples, according to the University.

“Support for legal benefits for gays and lesbians should not be conflated with favorable attitudes toward same-sex couples in general,” Doan said in the release. “We come to the conclusion that although heterosexuals may be increasingly willing to grant legal benefits to gay and lesbian couples, entrenched prejudice that takes on subtler forms may remain.”

Anna Hyzy

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